Arburg, the German machine construction company, announced at Fakuma 2014 that it is now taking orders for its industrial 3D printer, the Freeformer. The first plastics machinery company to also make a 3D printing machine, Arburg introduced the Freeformer one year ago at the K 2013 show in Dusseldorf.
Until K 2013, Arburg was primarily known as a leading global manufacturer of injection moulding machines for plastics processing. The Freeformer was dramatically unveiled, to say the least. It was revealed after a huge curtain was pulled up, also revealing a body-suit wearing acrobat atop the machine.
This is one of my favorite presentations, check out the unveiling of the Freeformer:
Arburg is showing two Freeformers at Fakuma this year. If you are going they are on stand A3-3101. The Freeformer is unlike any other machine in its category:
“Standard granulates are melted as in the injection moulding process. The Freeformer produces the component without support structures, layer by layer from minuscule droplets. The discharge unit with nozzle remains stationary, while the component carrier moves with three or five axes.”
Depositing drops of liquid plastic to build up parts, layer by layer, the Freeformer has a patented nozzle that opens and closes up to 100 times a second!
One of the most interesting key technologies here is the Linax linear motor axes. In this video, you get a better idea of how the Freeformer technology works, where the Linax linear motor axes enable the component carrier to create the shape of the object.
Heinz Gaub, part of the Board of Directors at Arburg, have announced details on when the Freeformers would be shipping.
“We have to finish the pilot projects that we have running with the Freeformers first, which will be March 2015. The Freeformers purchased here at Fakuma will be delivered once those projects have concluded.”
The company also revealed that the Freeformer will be available to purchase in the rest of Europe from 1 April 2015, on sale in the USA from NPE in March 2015 and finally in Asia at Chinaplas from May 2015 onwards. At the news conference, Arburg executives said business is doing well, particularly well in the UK. Michael Hehl, managing partner and spokesman for the managing board, said 2014 sales should top €500m, up from €480m in 2013.
“There is no doubt that our freeformer will influence our future business development as additive manufacturing is gaining increasing importance in the industrial sector,” explained Hehl.
“Rapid technical developments, short product life cycles, increasing variant diversity and the demand for customised products mean that the market for plastics processing and the associated requirements are changing.
“We recognised this trend some years ago, leading us to develop our freeformer and ARBURG Plastic Freeforming (AKF).”